UCL Institute of Mental Health


Mental health researchers honoured at international conference

25 September 2023

The achievements of early career researchers and postgraduate students specialising in mental health were celebrated at this week's Institute of Mental Health Conference (IoMH) with a series of awards.

Professor Anthony David awards the Michael King Prize to Dr Naomi Launders

Naomi Launders, of the Division of Psychiatry (UCL DoP), was awarded the Michael King Prize for best mental health thesis in 2022/23 at the conference on 20 September.

The focus of the winning thesis was investigating physical health and related secondary care use in people with severe mental illness using electronic health records.

The doctoral theses by Phoebe Barnett of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences (UCL PALS) on student mental health and Jonathan Rogers of UCL DoP on catatonia, were Highly Commended by the judges.

The prize was first awarded in 2022 in honour of Professor King, the first Director of the UCL Division of Psychiatry, who also led psychiatry research at the Royal Free Hospital for many years before the Division was created.

The prize was presented at the conference by IoMH Director, Professor Anthony David, who said:

“We are delighted to announce that Naomi Launders is the 2022/2023 winner of the Michael King PhD Prize. This is the second year of the prize which honours the previous head of the Division of Psychiatry at UCL. The award was based on scientific excellence as well as the student’s personal statement. The topic concerns the increased prevalence of medical conditions affecting people with serious mental illness and therefore exemplifies the ‘biopsychosocial approach’ followed by the late Professor King and indeed the Institute of Mental Health.

More than thirty posters were exhibited at the conference and shortlisted for two prizes. A judges' prize was awarded along with an audience choice prize, kindly sponsored by Mental Health Research UK (MHRUK), a charity dedicated to raising funds for research into mental illnesses.

Both prizes were ultimately awarded to two winners with the audience and judges' votes both tied.

Sarah Buehler of UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Merle Schlief of UCL PALS were jointly awarded the judges' award.

Meanwhile, Laura Grover from King's Centre for Military Health Research, King's College London and Davin Schmidt of UCL PALS were awarded the audience choice award, which was presented by MHRUK's Dr Laura Davidson.

The IoMH International Conference is only major UK multidisciplinary academic Mental Health conference and features internationally renowned speakers from UCL and beyond. You can find out more about the 2023 event here.